House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday insisted that Democrats remained “cool, calm and collected” despite the chaotic Iowa caucus, stunning rise of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden’s bruising losses in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“Every candidate has had a positive influence on the race. We respect the process the people will winnow the field. We’re calm, cool and collected,” the California Democrat said at her weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill, repeating the final sentence for emphasis.
“That’s politics, that’s a messy business,” she added before alluding to the raucous Republican primaries in 2015 and 2016, in which then-candidate Donald Trump shattered norms by mocking and bestowing unflattering nicknames on his opponents, such as Jeb “Low Energy” Bush and “Little Marco” Rubio.
Meanwhile, Biden was still licking his wounds Thursday over his disappearing act in the Granite State contest Tuesday, in which he finished a dismal fifth, with just 8.4 percent of the vote.
The Vermont senator won with 25.7 percent, ex-South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg came in second with 24.4 percent, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota third with 19.8 percent and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren fourth at 9.2 percent.
The former veep even blew town before the votes were counted and headed to South Carolina to stump for the upcoming primary there.
The deflating performance came just eight days after the Iowa caucuses, in which Biden finished fourth.
The back-to-back stumbles have created a difficult situation for Biden, who must perform well in upcoming contests in Nevada and South Carolina this month to show voters and donors that his candidacy remains viable.
David Hopkins, an expert on presidential campaigns at Boston College, told Reuters that no candidate had ever gone on to win the Democratic nomination after finishing lower than third place in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“Does Biden have the resources to sustain a comeback?” said Hopkins. “It’s hard to tell in this trajectory whether you are going to bounce back or just keep going downhill.”
Biden tried to downplay his early struggles, as Iowa and New Hampshire were small states with few delegates whose populations were overwhelmingly white and not representative of the country’s growing diversity, his campaign argued.
Sanders, Buttigieg and a suddenly surging Klobuchar celebrated their strong showings in New Hampshire on Tuesday, and Mike Bloomberg also emerged as a wild card in recent polling
In a Quinnipiac survey released this week, Sanders got 25 percent, while Biden received 17 percent and the former Big Apple mayor got 15 percent. Warren came in next with 14 percent, Buttigieg got 10 percent and Klobuchar got 4 percent.
While Buttigieg and Klobuchar have emerged as formidable rivals to Biden in attracting moderate Democratic voters, they so far have attracted little support among Latinos or African Americans, whose votes will be critical to defeat President Trump in November.
Biden has touted himself as the only candidate in the race capable of harnessing the Democrats’ diverse coalition.
But that claim is being challenged by Bloomberg, the billionaire who is skipping the four early contests to compete starting on Super Tuesday on March 3 — but already spending hundreds of millions on ads, mostly targeting Trump.
On a campaign strategy call Wednesday, Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, a co-chair of the Biden campaign, blasted Sanders, Buttigieg and Bloomberg, a former Republican, as too risky to trust with the nomination.
“We cannot afford to take a chance with a self-defined socialist, the mayor of a very small city, a billionaire who all of the sudden is a Democrat,” Richmond said.
Biden, meanwhile, struck an upbeat note in a Wednesday night call with supporters.
“I want you to know that things haven’t changed in terms of responses we’re getting, in terms of whether it’s contributions online or whether it’s endorsements since both of those primaries have taken place,” Biden said, according to a recording of the call obtained by Politico.
He told supporters he viewed South Carolina as a “launching pad” to performing well in Super Tuesday states, and said he had raised over $4 million online in the first 11 days of February and $453,000 online on Tuesday alone.
“I’ll be damned if we’re gonna lose this nomination, particularly if we’re gonna lose this nomination and end up losing an election to Donald Trump,” Biden said, adding that he was “not sugarcoating” the status of his chances and that he “feels really good.”
With Post wires